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The Original Plaque
The Compass Rose
The Story Wall
The Sculpture Group

Map of Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial Site

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The Original Plaque - A Modern Mystery
The original plaque commemorating the arrival of Kunta Kinte on September 29, 1767 aboard the ship Lord Ligonier was installed in the walkway along the waters edge at the Annapolis, Maryland City Dock in 1981. Funds to pay for the plaque and its installation were raised by a local group of community citizens, lead by Carl O. Snowden. Alex Haley, the author of the Pulitzer prize-winning book Roots, a story about Kunta Kinte and his descendants, attended the plaque’s dedication ceremony. (See photo of Mr. Haley's arrival at the ceremony.) Thousands of people witnessed the historic event.

Today the whereabouts of that original plaque remain one of the biggest mysteries of the history of Annapolis. For within 48 hours after the dedication ceremony, the plaque was stolen by one or more unknown thieves. The thieves left a calling card stating the site had been visited by the KKK. The story immediately caught the attention of the international media. The local citizens, enraged over the theft, vowed to raise new funds to replace the stolen plaque.

Two months later a replacement plaque was installed. While extensive search efforts were made to find the original plaque, including dredging the waters along the dock area, it has never been found. The plaque visitors see today is the 1981 replacement plaque.

In 1997 the replacement plaque was raised and mounted on a new pedestal which sits near the walkway site where it had been previously installed. The new pedestal was designed as one of the early components of a much larger Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial site. The 1981 replacement plaque can be seen today at its new resting place prominently displayed beside the statue of Alex Haley.

A section of text from the 1981 plaque

The plaque's message, in part states:

To commemorate the arrival, in this harbor of Kunta Kinte,
immortalizes by Alex Haley in Roots, and all others who
came to these shores in bondage and who by their toil,
character and ceaseless struggle for freedom have helped
to make these United States.

It is a message of tribute to the African Americans and others who came in bondage and have contributed to the strength and rich diversity of this Nation.

Observing the original commemoration plaque at the September 21, 1981 dedication ceremony are from left Alex Haley, County Executive Robert Pascal, Carl O. Snowden, Wendy Hinton, and Governor Harry Hughes.

Alex Haley arrives at Annapolis City Dock
for the 1981 plaque dedication
(Photo: Bob Gilbert, The Capital)

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The Compass Rose
A 14-foot diameter Compass Rose, inlaid in multi-colored granite with a bronze center-piece, is located next to the Annapolis, Maryland Market House, across from the City Dock. The bronze centerpiece contains a map of the world, oriented to true North, with Annapolis at is center. People who stand on the center point of the map can turn and face the direction of the homeland of their ancestors.

Reminiscent of compasses used by seafarers for centuries, including the men who brought Kunta Kinte to Annapolis, this marker touches many levels of the Haley's family story. It reminds us that most people who came to America arrived by boat. It inspires us to connect to our own genealogical roots as Alex Haley did. And it suggests immigrants from many lands help to chart America’s development.

Placed around the Compass Rose is special seating and night lighting. A nearby information display stand explains the Memorial and the meaning of each of its components.

The Compass Rose, near Market House, Annapolis, MD

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The Story Wall
The Row of granite-framed markers along the City seawall present ten sculpted bronze plaques. The plaques share messages designed to encourage reconciliation and healing from a legacy of slavery, ethic hatred, and oppression. They include commentray and original art about translated epigraphs from Alex Haley's messages in Roots. The messages are universal in significance.

Daytime View, The Story Wall, City Dock, Annapolis, MD

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The Sculpture Group
The Sculpture Group is comprised of a life-size bronze statue of a seated Alex Haley reading from a book on his lap, and three life-size bronze sculptures of children from different ethnic backgrounds. The Alex Haley statue portrays the late Mr. Haley stretching his hand toward the Chesapeake Bay while he tells the story of his family’s history to the three children. The sculpture grouping becomes one with the Bay. It is both intimate and inclusive.

One African-American girl and one Asian-American girl join a European-American boy as they “listen” intently to the master storyteller, Mr. Haley. Many a young child has joined this trio, or sat on Alex’s lap to take part in this wonderful opportunity to share their stories with him. Walk by to witness these discussions, and you, too, can experience some of the fond memories of your childhood, when your elderly grandparents, aunts, uncles, and even neighbors took time to share their stories with you.

On a clear day, sit on one of the many nearby benches and enjoy the view of the Memorial’s sculptures as they become one with the sea and the sky. Watch the local boaters pull up to the Dock; greet Colonial docents in period costume as they lead heritage area tourists through the bricked streets of Annapolis; listen to the seagulls overhead; treat yourself to a succulent crab cake or ice cream cone; view midshipmen from the nearby Naval Academy enjoy a day in town; and breathe in the fresh sea air. Don't forget to bring your camera!

The Sculpture Group, City Dock, Annapolis, MD

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The Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Foundation, Inc.• A Non-profit, 501(c)(3) Corporation Annapolis, Maryland,

© Copyright 2003 Kunta Kinte - Alex Haley Foundation. Design & Production — The Souza Agency. All rights reserved.